NBA could expand to 32 teams, Seattle ‘almost a given’

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NBA could expand to 32 teams, Seattle ‘almost a given’ originally appeared on NBC Sports Northwest

League chatter continues to mount about the possibility of the NBA expanding to 32 teams in the coming years.

On Tuesday, in a report from Michael Grange of Sportsnet Central on the Toronto Raptors retaining president Masai Ujiri, he shared this nugget about the possibility of Ujiri becoming part of an ownership group for a possible NBA expansion franchise.

Grange mentions Uriji’s connection to Oakview Group co-owner Tim Leiweke, who recruited Uriji to the Raptors back in 2013. Tim’s brother, Tod, is — you guessed it — one of the owners of the NHL’s 32nd team, the Seattle Kraken, who are set to take the ice this fall at the renovated Key Arena in Seattle.

Seattle seems like a sure bet for an expansion team should the league expand, and according to Grange, it’s looking more and more like a contender as talks continue.  

“It’s widely believed the NBA will expand for the first time since rounding out to 30 teams in 2004 partly to recoup for losses from the pandemic,” Grange wrote.

Returning to Seattle as part of the process is almost a given (with Las Vegas as the other likely city) now that the arena issues that led to the SuperSonics leaving for Oklahoma City in 2008 have been resolved.

– Michael Grange

Seattle lost its beloved SuperSonics in 2008 when former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz sold the team away to Oklahoma businessman Clay Bennett. Bennett restated his intent to keep the team in the Emerald City, but ultimately the 41-year franchise was relocated to Oklahoma City and took on a new identity as the Oklahoma City Thunder,

One of the biggest issues was Schultz’s failed attempts in getting the city to pay for a new arena. But with the Amazon-named Climate Pledge Arena now in place for the Kraken to make its debut for the 2021-22 season, Seattle could once again become a vibrant basketball market and a six-sports-team town.

While Ujiri could be lured to join a potential ownership group in Seattle, there are several other candidates who have expressed interest. Seahawks QB Russell Wilson and his wife, Ciara, are already part-owners of the Seattle Sounders and charter investors in the Portland Diamond Project, a group positioned to help Portland get a Major League Baseball Team.

NBA superstar and Naismith Basketball Hall of Famer Kevin Garnett has said he would bring back the team to Seattle if he could. 

While a league expansion is inevitable, there’s no timetable for it right now and it’s likely to not happen for years down the road. Nonetheless, the idea is intriguing enough to keep galvanizing Sonics fans on their toes. Plus, renewing that I-5 rivalry with the Portland Trail Blazers. We can hardly wait.